Twenty-one-year-old Jessica Springsteen of Colts Neck, NJ, guided Stone Hill Farm's Vindicat W to the winning round in Sunday's $82,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic to conclude week nine of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), sponsored by The Bainbridge Companies. Showing on a beautiful afternoon at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, Springsteen topped a field of great riders, including her trainer, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Laura Kraut.
Fifty-two entries jumped Sunday's 1.50m course set by Steve Stephens of Palmetto, FL, with ten advancing to the jump-off. First to go in the second round, Jessica Springsteen and Vindicat W were unbeatable. They cleared the course in 41.36 seconds. Two entries were faster but had rails down. Only two others were clear over the short course.
Kent Farrington (USA) and Haity McNerney's Zafira cleared the course in 41.53 seconds to finish in second. Third place went to Darragh Kerins (IRL) and E-Muze Yek, owned by Kerins and Maarten Huygens, with a time of 44.80 seconds. The fastest four-fault round belonged to Japan's Eiken Sato aboard Stephex Stables' Norlam des Estisses in 41.04 seconds.
Springsteen purchased Vindicat W, an eleven-year-old KWPN gelding by Guidam x Libero H, just after this summer's Olympic Games in London where he was the mount for Peter Charles in the British team's gold medal win. Springsteen tried Vindicat in August and the pair immediately clicked and showed for the first time together at the Washington International Horse Show in October.
"He has been amazing," Springsteen smiled. "He is the only horse that I have ever gotten and clicked with right away. He is strong; he has a lot of blood and a lot of energy, so I thought we might have a little trouble in the ring keeping under control, but he is so nice to ride and he listens so well. He is so easy to jump a clear round on. You just have to get him to the fence and let him do his thing. He has been unbelievable and I am so happy."
The pair got their first win together in the $15,000 RCG Farm SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic during week six in Wellington and Sunday's class, a Longines FEI world ranking event with an $82,000 purse, was their best performance to date. "It is definitely one of the biggest wins for me," Springsteen stated. "It is hard because there are always so many people in the class and so many amazing riders that are so fast. Even after I went today I was like, 'Ok, I was fast, but there is still McLain and Lauren (Hough) and Kent who are like lightning,' so I thought I definitely would get beaten, but he was amazing and I was lucky today."
Currently in her junior year at Duke University in North Carolina, Springsteen is juggling school with riding and has not been able to show quite as much, but feels that she is balancing things well. "I really wanted to go to college and get that experience, so I am happy," she acknowledged. "I am lucky that I have horses that I can really trust and that are so amazing and so brave, so it's not really too difficult. I'll get frustrated with myself if I make a mistake or don't go clear, but then I have to remember that everyone else is here riding every day and I'm not. I love school, so I wouldn't have done it any other way."
Final Results: $82,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic
1. VINDICAT W: 2002 KWPN gelding by Guidam x Libero H
JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN (USA), Stone Hill Farm: 0/0/41.36
2. ZAFIRA: 2004 KWPN mare Nassau x Cappucino van Berkenbroek
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), Haity McNerney: 0/0/41.53
3. E MUZE YEK: 2004 Belgian Warmblood gelding by For Pleasure x Carthago
DARRAGH KERINS (IRL), Darragh Kerins & Maarten Huygens: 0/0/44.80
4. NORLAM DES ESTISSES: 2001 Selle Francais stallion by Quidam de Revel x Uriel
EIKEN SATO (JPN), Stephex Stables: 0/4/41.04
5. ALSVID: 2001 Hanoverian gelding by Escudo I x Azur
RICHARD MOLONEY (IRL), Equinimity, LLC: 0/4/42.10
6. LITTLE TINKA: 1998 AES gelding by Tinka's Boy x Fiorello
HOLGER HETZEL (GER), Holger Hetzel: 0/4/44.58
7. ROTHCHILD: 2001 Belgian Sport Horse gelding by Artos x Elegant De L'Ile
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Sagamore Farms: 0/8/40.09
8. TACKERAY: 2000 KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Sandro
LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Nordic Lights Farm, LLC: 0/8/44.61
9. BELMONT: 2001 Canadian Warmblood gelding by Ahorn OT x Landfriese II
LAURA KRAUT (USA), Beverly Widdowson: 0/11/54.89
10. UNEX DAMORA Z: 2004 Zangersheide mare by Dutch Capitol x Chellano Z
TIM GREDLEY (GBR), Unex Competition Yard: 0/14/49.41
11. VANILLA: 2002 Danish Warmblood mare by Nabab De Reve x Clinton
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 1/83.30
12. MIKA: 2000 Selle Francais gelding by Nidor Platiere x Rubis Rouge
REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 1/84.06
Source: Jennifer Wood Media Inc.
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